Understanding ADOS: The Movement to Hijack Black Identity and Weaken Black Unity

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By Jessica Ann Mitchell Aiwuyor
January 2, 2020

*Author’s note: Thank you to everyone that read and shared this report. Within the first month of publication, the report was read and downloaded by over 37,000 people. The main countries readers are from include: U.S.A., UK, Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, South Africa, Germany, Barbados, the Netherlands, Australia, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, France, Mexico, Switzerland, Finland, Ireland, the Philippines, Singapore, Japan, Spain, Denmark, Rwanda, Cameroon, Belgium, Italy, China, Russia – and more. Clearly, ADOS and the issue of misinformation and disinformation are conversations that are long overdue for the global Black community. I will continue to write and speak on this subject while sharing more information, resources, and tools that can be used to support the global Black movement for reparations, social justice, and human rights. – J.A.M. Aiwuyor, Feb. 4, 2020.

Introduction:

The term “American Descendants of Slavery” (ADOS) was created in 2016 to describe and distinctly separate Black Americans/African Americans from Black immigrant communities (Africans, Afro-Caribbeans, Afro-Latinos, etc). The movement claims to advocate for reparations on behalf of Black Americans. 

However, this movement’s leadership is linked to right-wing media and white supremacists that have a history of attempting to cause divisions in the Black community. ADOS leaders say they’ll use the moniker “ADOS” as part of their legal justice claim for reparations. But instead, it is likely to be used to create policies that would further marginalize and oppress Black communities. The ADOS movement is particularly seeking to impact the 2020 presidential election, the 2020 census, and beyond.

ADOS appears to be a highly sophisticated propaganda campaign using the combination of African American history (in order to build trust) along with disinformation and misinformation tactics. Yet, with the support of economist Dr. William “Sandy” Darity and Dr. Cornel West, the ADOS movement has been able to garner legitimacy in various circles – allowing it to grow through support from unsuspecting Black Americans that support reparations.

An Overview of ADOS

On the cusp of Black Lives Matter and in the middle of the International Decade for People of African Descent, a fringe movement called “American Descendants of Slavery” (ADOS) has emerged to systematically fracture Black communities and directly attack Black unity and or Pan Africanism among the U.S. Black population. 

The movement relies heavily on right-wing, anti-Black, anti-immigrant talking points, and a series of policy positions reliant on a person’s ability to produce documentation or what I am calling “slave papers” in order to verify Black native identity. If implemented, the end result of these policies could be a weakened, further marginalized Black population.

Their main slogans are #ADOS, Tangibles, #Tangibles2020, and “cut the check.”

The ADOS movement is often aligned with another group of similar beliefs called Foundational Black Americans (#FBA) founded by filmmaker and Youtube personality, Tariq Nasheed. 

Despite its claimed reparations focus, the ADOS movement appears to operate like the Trojan horse – to infiltrate the Black community, hijack Black American identity, and contaminate legitimate causes like the fight for reparations and civil rights. 

A critical look at the group’s leadership, proposed policies, and actions provides more insight concerning the ADOS movement’s true intentions. 

ADOS’s harmful and anti-Black practices and policies: 

  1. ADOS leaders have a history of working with right-wing media like NewsMax and the fake-progressive organization, Progressives for Immigration Reform that is supported by white supremacist, John Tanton. 
  2. ADOS leaders want to split Black representation on the 2020 Census and make “ADOS” its own category – which would negatively impact the representation of Black communities, potentially decreasing access to funding and other resources available to Black communities overall.
  3. ADOS co-founders claim to be outspoken advocates for cash payout reparations but refuse to support the H.R.40 – Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act – a bill sponsored by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee. ADOS leadership initially supported the bill but is now pushing for the bill to include their newly presented moniker “ADOS” instead of “African American.” This is a frivolous excuse to move the goal post and center the reparations movement on the ADOS leadership instead of the communities they claim to represent.
  4. ADOS leaders have a proposed policy that would require Black Americans to provide slavery documentation before having access to affirmative action and reparations. Many Black Americans will not be able to provide this documentation. Consequently, their “slavery papers” policy would open the doorway to government scrutiny of family records, increased surveillance, and exclusionary practices.
  5. ADOS leaders bash and refuse to work with established Black reparations organizations like the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations (N’COBRA), which has advocated for reparations on behalf of Black Americans for decades. 
  6. ADOS leaders and members frequently attack Black historians, scholars, activists, and leaders through a form of online and in-person harassment called “swarming.” 
  7. ADOS leaders seek to limit Black immigrants from obtaining U.S. visas,  similar to the policies advocated by white supremacists that are attempting to stop the “browning of America” by decreasing Black and Brown immigrant entry to the U.S. 
  8. ADOS leaders do not believe that Black Americans can or should have any connection with Africa. They tell their followers to trace their lineage to America only and to stop acknowledging Africa as the home of our ancestors. 
  9. ADOS leaders have stated that Pan Africanism is dead and that African Americans are more closely connected genetically to white Americans than other people of African descent. 
  10. ADOS leadership and members use radicalization tactics like “othering” by demonizing and blaming Black immigrant communities for a lack of resources and jobs. They twist facts to fit their narrative and limit successful dialogue with others by telling members to “stay on code.” 
  11. The ADOS movement is suspected to be supported by a strategic propaganda campaign propped up by a large number of anonymous online accounts likely paid trolls – pretending to be Black Americans that agree with their movement in order to increase the appearance of their popularity and gain more followers.
  12. ADOS leaders use the work of deceased Black leaders like Queen Mother Audley Moore and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in their campaigns in order to build trust in the Black community. They use the works of these Black American ancestors out of context and exclude all references to African roots, African identity, Pan Africanism, or anything related to global Black movements or unity. 
  13. ADOS leaders seek to take credit for all current reparations discussions, including the #1619 Project created by journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones and the recent House hearing on H.R. 40 during which Ta-Nehisi Coates and Danny Glover testified.

ADOS Leadership, White Supremacists, and the Black Vote

The ADOS movement was founded in 2016 by Yvette Carnell and Antonio Moore. The pair have a thriving Youtube and Twitter following. Moore is a lawyer and Carnell served as a congressional aide before gaining popularity on Boyce Watkins’ YourBlackWorld.net. Antonio Moore authored several articles on NewsMax, a right-wing leaning news site. 

Additionally, ADOS co-founder, Yvette Carnell served on the board of Progressives for Immigration Reform (PFIR), a fake progressive/front organization linked to white nativist, supremacist and eugenics supporter John Tanton, who sought to limit Black and Brown immigrants in the U.S. (Lee, 2014/SPLC, 2010)

A report by the Southern Poverty Law Center, titled “Greenwash: Nativists, Environmentalism and the Hypocrisy of Hate,” states:

A quarter of a century ago, John Tanton, a white nationalist who would go on to almost single-handedly construct the contemporary, hard-line anti-immigration movement, wrote about his secret desire to bring the Sierra Club, the nation’s largest environmental organization, into the nativist fold. He spelled out his motive clearly: Using an organization perceived by the public as part of the liberal left would insulate nativists from charges of racism — charges that, given the explicitly pro-“European-American” advocacy of Tanton and many of his allies over the years, would likely otherwise stick.

It continues: 

Now, the greenwashers are back. In the last few years, right-wing groups have paid to run expensive advertisements in liberal publications that explicitly call on environmentalists and other “progressives” to join their anti-immigration cause. They’ve created an organization called Progressives for Immigration Reform that purports to represent liberals who believe immigration must be radically curtailed in order to preserve the American environment. They’ve constructed websites accusing immigrants of being responsible for urban sprawl, traffic congestion, overconsumption and a host of other environmental evils. Time and again, they have suggested that immigration is the most important issue for conservationists. (SPLC, 2010).

The ADOS movement appears to borrow from the strategy of Tanton’s covert white supremacist based initiatives. Through an identity-based framework, ADOS is trying to increase friction between African American and Black immigrant communities – thereby increasing support for anti-immigration initiatives that will largely affect Black immigrants. With fewer Black immigrants in America, their movement could stall a Black and Brown majority population in the U.S. for an additional few years – this is a major goal of white supremacists. And this goal is tied to how African Americans see themselves in terms of identity, which is why ADOS leaders try to get their followers to disconnect from Pan Africanism and African heritage. 

Some ADOS members are even suggesting that we do away with the terms “Black American” or “African American” and use “ADOS” exclusively. This is just as dangerous as voter suppression and disinformation campaigns because language and ideology have a longer-lasting effect. If ADOS leaders can make Black Americans rethink their identity as people of African descent and ingrain ADOS’s American nativist sentiments in the national narrative, their ideology will still dictate African American sentiment towards Black immigrants and policies directed towards the Black community – beyond 2020. 

A recent PFIR newsletter stated: 

The ranks of the disfranchised are large and growing each year. In the last three years, the American Descendants of Slaves or ADOS movement, a movement that understands the impact unbridled immigration has had on our country’s most vulnerable workers, has grown to a size where it has real political clout. Given that if less than 90% of black voters who vote do not vote for a Democratic presidential candidate, the Republican candidate will win. Add to this the growth of black conservative groups such as Urban Game Changers that have coalesced around the topic of immigration, and it is conceivable the White House will be out of reach of any political party that does not prioritize restricting immigration. (PFIR, 2019).

PFIR believes that ADOS could help fulfill its mission and makes its intentions of fracturing the Black vote with their anti-immigrant campaign very clear. Thus, they celebrate ADOS’s contribution to their goals. 

ADOS Hijacks Legacies and Identities

Queen Mother Audley Moore – Hijacked Legacy

ADOS co-founders are misusing the legacy of Queen Mother Audley Moore, a vigilant Pan Africanist, that founded the Committee for Reparations for Descendants of U.S. Slaves (Farmer, 2019). ADOS co-founders hijacked her legacy and twisted her intentions to fit their narrative. Their advocacy is the complete opposite of Queen Mother Moore and everything that she represented. This is exactly the same tactic used and implemented by white supremacist John Tanton to infiltrate liberal movements.  

Queen Mother Moore’s work on reparations existed within the context of an international reparations movement.

Yet, when using the story about her activism, ADOS supporters like Dr. Sandy Darity neglect to share with his followers the fact that Queen Mother Moore referred to herself as African. 

Here is an example of Dr. Darity using Queen Mother Moore’s legacy to ignore the ADOS movement’s xenophobic and anti-Black core.

Queen Mother Moore also founded the Universal Association of Ethiopian Women and the African American Cultural Foundation, Inc. (Blaine, 2019). Additionally, she was a co-founder of the Republic of New Afrika (Berger, 2018). She is referred to as Queen Mother because she was given the honorary title in Ghana (Pace, 1997). 

Yet, ADOS co-founders continually strive to distance themselves and their followers from Africa. 

At the ADOS conference that was held in October 2019, “The audience was told that they should trace their origins to American slavery, not Africa. They were told that their ancestors had built the country with slave labor and that the country owed them a debt. They were told that they should demand reparations, and withhold their votes in 2020 unless the Democratic nominee outlined a specific economic plan for ADOS.” (Stockman, 2019)

ADOS leaders also build off of the work of the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (N’COBRA) but have been hostile towards the organization, even though N’COBRA members have a long-standing track record of advocating for reparations.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – Hijacked Legacy

ADOS leaders claim to base their movement on the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as well. They have circulated media using his image and videos of his speeches along with their website and logo. Thus, they are attempting to make Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. a posthumous symbol/spokesperson of the ADOS movement. The videos circulated highly resemble tools of propaganda. 

It should be noted that although Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stated that we are the “descendants of slaves,” he did not use this statement to limit our identity to slavery or to distance Black Americans from global Black movements. In fact, he and Coretta Scott King visited Ghana, attended Ghana’s independence ceremony, and met with Ghana’s first president, the then Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah (Elnaiem, 2018). 

Later, he said to Richard Nixon, “I want you to come visit us down in Alabama where we are seeking the same kind of freedom the Gold Coast is celebrating.” (Stanford)

“Ghana tells us that the forces of the universe are on the side of justice… An old order of colonialism, of segregation, discrimination is passing away now. And a new order of justice, freedom and good will is being born,” he said. (Elnaiem, 2018)

MLK was very much aware of Black American cultural ties to Africa, other people of African descent and the global Black push for freedom. However, ADOS leadership often cherry-picks history, miseducating their followers. 

They are essentially hijacking his legacy like they’ve done with other ancestors while attempting to hijack/recreate the Black American identity as a whole. 

This is why they insist on calling ADOS a lineage. And this is why it is important for us to instead reference them as a group or movement – to make it known that they do not represent and can not dictate the identity of 42 million Black Americans without our consent. 

And we do not consent.

The ADOS Black American Purity Test Will Further Persecute Black Communities

The irony of the ADOS movement is that it relies on a surface level analysis of Black identities in America. “Lineage matters” is another one of their slogans but they have yet to master the distinction of lineage even among the population they claim to support.

Slavery itself is not a lineage. Slavery is a condition that was attached to our lineage by oppressors and colonizers, that created the racial hierarchies upon which America has, since its inception, used to exploit and oppress people of African descent through laws, policies, and systems.

View their “slavery papers” criteria for reparations and affirmative action based on the work of Dr. Sandy Darity below:

1. An individual would have to provide reasonable documentation of at least one ancestor enslaved in the United States and

2. They would need to demonstrate they have identified as black, African American, Colored, or Negro on established legal documents for at least 10 years prior to the onset of the program

Note: In addition, we would add that at least one grandparent fulfills both prongs of the criteria if a person is biracial. (ADOS101.com)

The Black identity in America (even among those of us that descended from enslaved Africans) is far more complicated than they are suggesting. They neglect to provide examples of “reasonable documentation,” which, no matter the attempt, would result in a wave of issues not likely to be easily addressed. 

Following their guidelines, how would lineage be proved in the following cases? :

– African Americans descended from Maroon communities.
– African Americans descended from people that changed their names and locations after emancipation or escapes.
– African Americans with no trace of documentation beyond our grandparents or great-grandparents.
– Descendants of enslaved Africans that escaped or moved to Canada, Nova Scotia, Mexico, and Liberia.

Would they be excluded from ADOS payouts? Would they pass the ADOS Black nativist purity test? Would they be considered worthy of citizenship, affirmative action, and reparations? 

Who is going to manage this fact-finding/witch hunt expedition? Who ultimately decides who among us is the pure Black American? Who would wield that power, and under what authority?

Black American/ African American identity, heritage, and lineage are more complex than is traditionally acknowledged. 

And due to the complexity of Black existence in America, creating a litmus test reliant on documentation to prove our Blackness or our native Black Americaness would lead to a slew of additional exclusionary practices that would lock out even many Black Americans from the rights ADOS leaders claim to protect. Additionally, it could open up pandora’s box for scrutiny of existing family records or a lack thereof by the federal government. 

How ADOS Promotes Anti-Blackness Through Anti-Immigrant Beliefs

The co-founders of ADOS harbor anti-immigrant sentiments, primarily directed towards Afro-Caribbean and African immigrants. They believe that Black immigrants are taking the resources of the Black American population and that the native Black community should be distinctly recognized to differentiate between ourselves and Black immigrants in policy decisions.  

This narrative is from an old playbook. As Alan Jenkins, in his essay,  Bridging the Black-Immigrant Divide noted, “…that conversation was framed in terms of competition and conflict. That framing was no accident. The mainstream media have fixated on potential points of black/immigrant tension, looking for a conflict storyline. And that storyline has been amply fed by conservative anti-immigrant groups intent on driving a wedge between the two communities.” (Jenkins, 2007)

Currently, ADOS leaders are calling for additional limits to the H1-B Visa program so that less Black immigrants are allowed into the U.S.:

“Findings published in USA Today concluded that top universities graduate ADOS in tech, but those graduates can’t find jobs in Silicon Valley.  Only 2% of technology workers at seven Silicon Valley companies are Black, according to the report, and many of those are Black immigrants, not ADOS.  And according to a study by Rutgers Professor Hal Salzman, American colleges graduate more tech workers than tech companies need, hence the H1-B program reduces opportunities for ADOS searching for careers in technology. The government must strictly limit the number of H1-B Visa workers tech companies that flow in each year.” – (ADOS Black Agenda, 2019) https://ados101.com/black-agenda

As noted above, ADOS leaders and members emphasize the same anti-immigrant narratives created by conservatives, white nationalists, and white supremacists (Hayden, 2019). The narrative of “leeching immigrants” that are “taking jobs and draining resources,” is fear-mongering rhetoric that blames Black and Brown immigrants for disparities in employment, housing, education, and other areas of concern – instead of placing blame for these issues on the racist oppressive systems that dictate our daily lives. Donald Trump and his administration have been actively promoting the same anti-immigrant talking points (Scott, 2019). 

Additionally, ADOS leaders and membership believe that Affirmative Action should be a “streamlined” program only for those that can prove their family was enslaved in America. Under their proposed Affirmative Action policy, the Black immigrant population, which also experiences racism and systematic oppression, would be excluded from Affirmative Action programs. ADOS leadership has no plan for how exactly this type of exclusionary illogical practice is supposed to be implemented, beyond their demand for Black people across America to suddenly produce slave papers to validate their Black identity.

Elevating divisiveness in Black communities through legislation that would ultimately affect all people of African descent in America would only cause more harm and certainly would not address America’s racialized systems of oppression. ADOS leadership and members (either knowingly or unknowingly) are advocating for the second-class citizenship of Black immigrants, somehow believing that Black Americans would be shielded from this process. Yet, that is not how America functions. Black is what America sees first. 

When Amadou Diallo was shot down by the NYPD, no one asked him if he was the descendant of U.S. slaves first. 

A true reparations movement, that focuses on transformative systems and policies would also promote reparative justice among the lives of Black and Brown immigrants. This is why renowned activist and actor, Danny Glover uplifts people of African descent around the world and is serving a spokesperson for both reparations and the International Decade for People of African Descent.

As was noted by Dr. Robin D. G. Kelley, “Given the relationship of slavery and racism to the global economy, this outcome makes perfect sense. Many of these poor immigrant groups are themselves products of centuries of imperialism — slavery’s handmaiden, if you will — or descendants of slaves, as in the case of many Caribbean and Latin American immigrants (Kelley, 2002).”

Additionally, increased hostility towards Black immigrants will only lead to increased hostility towards the overall Black community. Just last year, Peter Sean Brown –  a Black American man, even after several attempts to prove his identity, was wrongly detained by ICE and almost deported to Jamaica. 

Brown stated after the incident, “I would never have expected in a million years that this would happen, and I can tell you it’s not a good feeling. And with policies like this in order and people implementing them like that, it was only going to continue…There has to be a stop at some point before it becomes all of us.” (Shoichet, 2018)

Noticeably, white immigrants are never met with this hostility or blamed for America’s failed systems. The discussion in general rarely even includes white immigrants. This is because the core issue is not about immigration. Black and Brown immigrants are demonized because by 2045 people of color in America will outnumber the white population. Thus, white supremacists are seeking to limit Black immigrants because their birth rates increase the overall Black population. 

They believe that limiting Black immigrants from entering the U.S. will slow down the browning of America (Stein, Dam, 2018). This is likely why racists like right-wing commentator Ann Coulter support the ADOS movement. And this is exactly why John Tanton, a known supporter of eugenics, supports PFIR and its anti-immigration efforts that ADOS appears to mimic. They enjoy and hope to gain from the divisiveness. 

View this exchange between Ann Coulter and ADOS  co-founder, Antonio Moore and FBA founder, Tariq Nasheed. Coulter says, “I like #ADOS, but I think it should be #DOAS – Descendants of American slaves.  Not Haitian slaves, not Moroccan slaves, etc.” 



Ann Coulter’s support and PFIR’s support is not by happenstance. It’s very intentional and telling about the trajectory of the ADOS movement. 

ADOS Visibility Online and Beyond

Election Interference Warnings

ADOS co-founders, Carnell and Moore, host shows on their Youtube channels, teaching their followers about the economic impact of slavery and the estimated amount of reparations owed to Black Americans. The shows are also used to spread anti-immigrant narratives, chastise Black activists that don’t agree with their movement, comment on various Black issues, and discuss their proposed policies. 

It is suspected that the ADOS movement is being elevated on digital media platforms by an election interference/ disinformation campaign. The suspicions are based on reports that similar tactics were used during the 2016 elections to stoke racial tensions. Some believe that for the 2020 election, a concerted effort is being made to attack the Black vote through divisiveness and confusion. ADOS leadership and membership’s rhetoric make them vulnerable to be used for interference purposes. 

For example, ADOS members are calling for the implementation of their “Black Agenda.” However, with their slogan, “No Black Agenda, No Vote!” critics of the ADOS movement fear that outside forces my amplify this message in hopes to implement voter suppression under the guise of activism. 

The National Urban League’s “State of Black America” report warned, “Your timeline is the new battleground for voter suppression. A sweeping Senate investigation found that before, during and after the 2016 presidential election, Russia’s St. Petersburg-based troll factory, the Internet Research Agency (IRA), used social media to distract and divide American voters, demobilize the electorate and depress the vote. Russian propagandists specifically targeted African Americans through a wide-reaching influence campaign. Their tactics included posing as legitimate activist groups, eroding trust in democratic institutions and spreading disinformation.” (pp. 10)

ADOS Websites

ADOS members continuously state that ADOS is a lineage and not a membership-based organization. However, most Black Americans have never heard of the movement and have not opted into this new moniker. Thus, ADOS does function more like a membership-based organization or group. Furthermore, ADOS group members have several websites and online groups/meetups indicating regional memberships like ADOSla.org, ADOS DMV, ADOSColumbus.org, ADOS.NYC, and ADOS_NC, ADOSA.org, ADOSInstitute.com, and their video arm ADOS.tv/Afroplex.com. The main website for the movement is ADOS101.com.

Seizing the Narrative

ADOS is mostly considered a fringe movement. Yet, because they have gone mostly unrebutted in a substantial way, they have taken advantage of an opportunity to seize the national narrative. They have already started gaining ground in the national media by engaging in protests and hosting events like their recent ADOS conference – featuring key figures like Dr. Sandy Darity, presidential candidate Marianne Williamson, and Dr. Cornel West. 

For example, Dr. West attended their conference in October 2019 and celebrated the movement live on CNN. He has also been promoting the ADOS movement during his speaking engagements. Additionally, Dr. West has started preaching Black nativism in alignment with the ADOS movement. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fdvOUUJ_j1A&feature=youtu.be

As was mentioned earlier, Dr. Sandy Darity is also helping ADOS leadership to seize the narrative. As one of the leading economists and scholars championing reparations, Darity’s support of the ADOS movement is pivotal to its growth. He has faced some backlash by critics of ADOS but remains a supporter, believing that the ADOS movement is “the most vital black movement today in conjunction with Black Lives Matter.” However, Black Lives Matter is a movement that is inclusive of the entire Black community, with its leadership understanding the importance of global Black movements.

The strength of Black Lives Matter is its inclusiveness and its embrace of the overall Black collective. Whereas ADOS attempts to parse Blackness and disrupt Black unity in favor of aspired Black nativist privileges. So attempting to align ADOS with the strength and depth of Black Lives Matter is not grounded in reality. 

In one tweet Darity acknowledged the xenophobic, anti-Black attacks lodged by ADOS members, telling ADOS followers to apologize for “denigration” and “rejection” of other Black communities. 

But this is not enough and ineffective because ADOS leadership, the core of their movement, continually drives the movement’s xenophobia and anti-Blackness. 

For example, on December 16, 2019, ADOS co-founder Yvette Carnell live-streamed a two-hour video bashing the Ghanian tourism industry in which she implied that the entire country of Ghana was scamming African Americans. At a time when white supremacists have openly seized control of two-thirds of the U.S. government, everyday infringing on our civil and human rights – Ghana’s tourism industry and its appeal to African Americans was her pressing issue of the day. Because the unifying message of the Year of the Return is more of a threat to the ADOS movement than the white supremacists that support it. 

It is clear that Dr. Darity is doing a delicate dance between the reality of the ADOS movement and the potential he perceives it to have. He’s seeking to continue its growth while attempting to minimize the problematic ideals, beliefs, and proposed policies of ADOS leadership and its members.

ADOS Attacks and Online Harassment – “Swarms”

ADOS group members engage in an act called swarming. Its when bots, trolls, and fanatics send a downpour of tweets to one particular account, engulfing a person’s twitter account and notifications in order to overwhelm, harass, and bully them. 

First, attacks start with Black immigrants, then attacks are directed towards any Black person, especially Black Americans, that do not fall in line with their movement. They often reference staying “on code” as a way to influence their members to repeat their rhetoric and ignore criticisms of the ADOS movement.

Already in the ADOS world, if you look like an outsider, if your last name is not English, if you have one immigrant parent, if you’re married to an immigrant – you are viewed as a threat. Basically, Black people with the closest proximity to white American identity are celebrated, and those with the closest proximity to an African identity are villainized as outsiders. And if one is unable to go in their closet and pull out their handy dandy “slave papers”, which is not that simple (Taylor-Coleman, 2016), your identity and existence are continually attacked.

Here are some examples below, featuring tweets from ADOS members: 

Based on their repeated actions, it’s not hard to see that the ADOS movement encourages Black people to attack other Black people based on their assumed ethnicity or based on their refusal to acquiesce to their demands.

ADOS twitter accounts have attacked journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, activist Bree Newsome Bass, actress Yvette Nicole Brown, rapper Talib Kweli, radio host Mark Thompson, tv-host Joy Reid, political commentator Dr. Jason Johnson, and many others. They even mocked the death of Rep. Elijah Cummings. They attack anyone that does not agree with their beliefs, especially other Black Americans.

ADOS co-founder, Yvette Carnell, even hosted a two-hour video where she posted activist Bree Newsome Bass’ wedding photos in an attempt to chastise her for not aligning with their movement. Bass is known for her courageous act of civil disobedience when she removed the confederate flag in South Carolina during the summer of 2015.

On Thanksgiving Day of 2019, ADOS twitter accounts attacked Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee because she handed out turkeys to people in her community. They were demanding that the H.R. 40 Bill be rewritten to include the term “ADOS” specifically, or they won’t support it, and they will continue to harass her online with hateful tweets. An ADOS twitter account has accused Jackson Lee of being a “Sneaky African/Caribbean immigrant masquerading as a Native born Black American.” 

How can such a movement and its leaders be trusted to manage and dictate the rules for reparations?  

How can Dr. Cornel West or Dr. Sandy Darity justify publicly supporting such a divisive, anti-Black movement and its leaders? 

The Pan African Response

In conclusion, I sincerely believe that many members of the ADOS movement are unsuspecting people that genuinely believe they are fighting for reparations – unaware that ADOS leaders and other outside forces may have used their vulnerability and purposely tied the reparations cause to the low-hanging fruit of divisiveness, anti-Blackness, and anti-immigration sentiments. Additionally, many are unaware that the ADOS movement is likely bolstered by a flurry of bots, trolls, and fanatics that seek to control the narrative through a swarm of tweets, websites, and online forums – with much of the interaction stimulated by multiple anonymous accounts. 

Unsuspecting social media users are then led to believe that the movement is more popular than it actually is. This allows ADOS leadership to increase buy-in from actual people in hopes to stir their emotions and get them to join their cause. Thus, any action taken to address this movement must focus on education that publicly dispels the false narratives shared through ADOS misinformation and disinformation campaigns. 

Educational campaigns surrounding reparations must highlight the global effects of imperialism, the global Black movement for reparations, the need for restorative justice, and the need for reparations aligned with radical systematic changes that continually uplift Black communities economically, medically, educationally, etc.   

There have been a few articles published to counter the ADOS narrative. However, the ADOS movement has already been featured in the New York Times, has started meeting with members of congress, and some ADOS-identified members have started running for office. Pan Africanists, Black activists, and scholars have the resources, institutional knowledge, and activism needed to push a more accurate, unifying narrative, but we must organize quickly and be ready to publicly denounce ADOS. Black Americans in the Pan African movement especially need to counter the ADOS movement’s false narratives.

There needs to be a more concentrated effort to uplift informed, unifying voices in the national media and, even more importantly, on social media. Additionally, supporters of the ADOS movement, that give the movement legitimacy, need to be publicly addressed. 

For the most part, many Black academics and activists are against the ADOS movement and recognize what is happening. However, the lack of a concentrated effort to drown out ADOS leaders’ voices and uplift trustworthy unifying voices has given ADOS leaders the ability to gain a stronghold online among impressionable and vulnerable Black Americans. We need more voices on social media platforms, in the media, at universities, at community events, and in conferences uplifting the Black collective and speaking out against the ADOS movement. 

We need to uplift the work of the National African American Reparations Commission (NAARC) and The National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (N’COBRA), organizations, activists, and scholars that recognize the importance reparations and reparative justice within the scope of an international, Pan-Africanist framework. 

We must work to protect the Black community from disinformation campaigns and engage our communities so that they are aware of the consequences of the ADOS movement and others like it that will surely pop up in 2020 and beyond. 

Any person interested in joining the initiative to spread awareness concerning disinformation campaigns targeting the Black community and uplifting the Black collective, email jamaiwuyor@gmail.com

Additional Critiques of the ADOS Movement

Adjei-Kontoh, H. (2019, November 21). The tortured logic of #ADOS. Retrieved December 5, 2019, from https://theoutline.com/post/8286/american-descendants-of-slavery-movement?zd=1&zi=v43qa763

Afrika, O. (2019, February 10). Does the #ADOS & #MAGA convergence signal imminent Economic Collapse? Retrieved December 5, 2019, from https://medium.com/@omowaleafrika/does-the-ados-maga-convergence-signal-imminent-economic-collapse-1eea117620ae

Afrika, O. (2019, May 12). A.D.O.S 101 A historical primer of the anti-African roots of the ADOS movement. Retrieved December 18, 2019, from https://medium.com/@omowaleafrika/a-d-o-s-101-4b741e100598?

Brooks, R. (2019, March 1). Fake Black Voter Bots Could Sideline Real Black Voices In 2020. Retrieved December 5, 2019, from https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/ryancbrooks/black-activists-twitter-bots-2020-election-trolls

CRAWFORD,  BRYAN 18X . (2019 5). ADOS Its origins, troublesome ties and fears it’s dividing Black folk in the fight for reparations. Retrieved December 5, 2019, from https://www.finalcall.com/artman/publish/National_News_2/ADOS-Its-origins-troublesome-ties-and-fears-it-s-dividing-Black-folk-in-the-fight-for-reparations.shtml

Drayton, T. (2019, April 12). ADOS wants reparations—but at what cost? Retrieved December 5, 2019, from https://www.dailydot.com/irl/ados-reparations-slavery/

Greene, T. K. (2019, November 11). Why #ADOS Is Trash. Receipts Attached. Retrieved December 5, 2019, from https://medium.com/@TalibKweli/why-ados-is-trash-receipts-attached-5a337f46f10

Hampton, R. (2019, July 9). A Movement or a Troll? Retrieved December 5, 2019, from https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2019/07/kamala-harris-not-black-ados-reparations-movement.html

Media Matters Staff. (2019, April 15). What to know about ADOS, a group targeting Black progressives. Retrieved December 5, 2019, from https://www.mediamatters.org/4chan/what-know-about-ados-group-targeting-black-progressives

StrategyCamp. (2019, August 3). The Top 5 Reasons ADOS is Trash. Retrieved December 5, 2019, from https://medium.com/@SIIPCampaigns/the-top-5-reasons-ados-is-trash-a17b8c33262d

Velez, D. O. (2019, May 19). We should be discussing reparations for slavery. Beware those with a right-wing agenda. Retrieved December 5, 2019, from https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2019/5/19/1856371/-We-should-be-discussing-reparations-for-slavery-Beware-those-with-a-right-wing-agenda

Wong, D. (2019, February 22). How the ADOS Movement is Hindering the Pan-African Struggle. Retrieved December 5, 2019, from https://medium.com/@dwomowale/how-the-ados-movement-is-hindering-the-pan-african-struggle-8fe6e57fc44e

Sources Cited

Berger, D. (2018, April 10). “Free the Land!”: Fifty Years of the Republic of New Afrika – AAIHS. Retrieved December 5, 2019, from https://www.aaihs.org/free-the-land-fifty-years-of-the-republic-of-new-afrika/

Blain, K. (2019, February 25). Audley Moore, Black Women’s Activism, and Nationalist Politics – AAIHS. Retrieved December 5, 2019, from https://www.aaihs.org/audley-moore-black-womens-activism-and-nationalist-politics/

Donovan-Smith , O. (2019, March 8). – The. Retrieved December 5, 2019, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/gdpr-consent/?destination=%2fnation%2f2019%2f03%2f08%2fwhy-this-descendant-black-american-slave-is-being-deported%2f%3f

Elnaiem, M. (2018, August 16). The African Roots of MLK’s Vision. Retrieved December 5, 2019, from https://daily.jstor.org/the-african-roots-of-mlks-vision/

Farmer, A. (2019, February 28). Audley Moore and the Modern Reparations Movement – AAIHS. Retrieved December 5, 2019, from https://www.aaihs.org/audley-moore-and-the-modern-reparations-movement/

Hayden, M. E. (2019, November 12). Stephen Miller’s Affinity for White Nationalism Revealed in Leaked Emails. Retrieved December 5, 2019, from https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2019/11/12/stephen-millers-affinity-white-nationalism-revealed-leaked-emails

Jackson Lee, S. (2019). H.R.40 – 116th Congress (2019-2020): Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act. Retrieved December 5, 2019, from https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/40

Kelley, Dr. R. D. G. (2003). For Reparations and Transformation. Retrieved December 18, 2019, from https://solidarity-us.org/atc/102/p683/

LEE, E. Y. H. (2014, October 23). Fake ‘Progressive’ Group Pits Blacks Against Immigrants In Nasty TV Ad. Retrieved December 5, 2019, from https://thinkprogress.org/fake-progressive-group-pits-blacks-against-immigrants-in-nasty-tv-ad-51498ddff50b/

Media Matters Staff. (2019, April 15). What to know about ADOS, a group targeting Black progressives. Retrieved December 5, 2019, from https://www.mediamatters.org/4chan/what-know-about-ados-group-targeting-black-progressives

Pace, E. (1997, May 7). Queen Mother Moore, 98, Harlem Rights Leader, Dies. Retrieved December 5, 2019, from https://www.nytimes.com/1997/05/07/nyregion/queen-mother-moore-98-harlem-rights-leader-dies.html

Progressives for Immigration Reform. (2019). Taking on the Ecofascist Meme. Retrieved December 5, 2019, from https://us9.campaign-archive.com/?u=845a0ee1621585a7136f535df&id=bbaa74d77a

Read the 2019 State of Black America Report | National Urban League. (2019). Retrieved December 5, 2019, from https://nul.org/news/read-2019-state-black-america-report

Runes, C. (2019, February 26). Following a long history, the 2020 Census risks undercounting the black population. Retrieved December 5, 2019, from https://www.urban.org/urban-wire/following-long-history-2020-census-risks-undercounting-black-population

Scott, E. (2019, January 9). – The. Retrieved December 5, 2019, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/gdpr-consent/?destination=%2fpolitics%2f2019%2f01%2f09%2ftrumps-claim-that-black-americans-are-hurt-most-by-illegal-immigration-gets-pushback%2f%3f

Shoichet, C. C. E. (2018, December 4). US citizen: Sheriff detained me after ICE request. Retrieved December 9, 2019, from https://edition.cnn.com/2018/12/03/us/us-citizen-detained-ice/index.html

Southern Poverty Law Center. (2010, July 27). SPLC Report: Nativists Appealing to Environmentalists are “Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing.” Retrieved December 5, 2019, from https://www.splcenter.org/news/2010/07/27/splc-report-nativists-appealing-environmentalists-are-wolves-sheeps-clothing

Stein, J., & Van Dam, A. (2018, February 6). – The. Retrieved December 5, 2019, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/gdpr-consent/?destination=%2fnews%2fwonk%2fwp%2f2018%2f02%2f06%2ftrump-immigration-plan-could-keep-whites-in-u-s-majority-for-up-to-five-more-years%2f%3f

Stockman, F. (2019a, November 13). Deciphering ADOS: A New Social Movement or Online Trolls? Retrieved December 5, 2019, from https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/13/reader-center/slavery-descendants-ados.html

Stockman, F. (2019b, November 13). Deciphering ADOS: A New Social Movement or Online Trolls? Retrieved December 5, 2019, from https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/13/reader-center/slavery-descendants-ados.html

Stockman, F. (2019c, November 13). ‘We’re Self-Interested’: The Growing Identity Debate in Black America. Retrieved December 5, 2019, from https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/08/us/slavery-black-immigrants-ados.html

Taylor-Coleman, J. (2016, September 11). How do you trace ancestors who were slaves? Retrieved December 5, 2019, from https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-37291230

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute. (2018, April 4). Ghana Trip. Retrieved December 5, 2019, from https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/encyclopedia/ghana-trip

The Opportunity Agenda: A Media and Public Opinion Scan and Analysis. (2007). Bridging the Black-Immigrant Divide: Retrieved December 5, 2019, from https://www.opportunityagenda.org/explore/resources-publications/bridging-black-immigrant-divide

News Flash! Malia Obama has a brain

Some media outlets are in a frenzy after receiving a tip that Malia Obama, daughter of former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, has a secret Facebook account. Her posts included criticism of the Trump Administration, which apparently, is shocking to some.

To me, this “revelation,” (if you want to call it that) is like telling me that water is wet. She’s the daughter of THE Michelle Obama! Which means that not only does she have a brain – she’s probably also pretty good at critical thinking. And anyone good at critical thinking – hell even simple thinking – would have criticisms for the Trump Administration.

I don’t know where this belief system comes from that Malia and Sasha Obama should be void of thoughts. Meanwhile, Meghan McCain (the daughter of John McCain) is a co-host on The View and Ivanka Trump (failed fashion line connoisseur) is in charge of God knows what in the White House.

So for anyone that’s shocked. Yes, Malia Obama (a student at Harvard University) has a brain.

Tell me something I don’t know.

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On Fairfax and Northam: How Justice Was Weaponized to Excuse Racism

OG: Image

As a Black woman that has experienced sexual assault, the last few days in Virginia politics has left me reeling in a vortex of anger and distrust. Unfortunately, I’m not alone. Governor Ralph Northam effectively lost the Black community’s trust with his admission/non-admission of having posed in a yearbook photo with blackface and Ku Klux Klan robes at the ripe age of 25 years old.

Consequently, he was asked by Virginia Democrats to resign. He promptly refused, causing more mayhem. However, the glimmer of hope was the possibility of Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, taking Northam’s place.

Justin Fairfax speaking to reporters.

Then, suddenly that glimmer of hope came crashing down as sexual abuse allegations spread about Fairfax. With two allegations, one from Professor Vanessa Tyson (2004) and one from Meredith Watson (2000) – it was clear that Fairfax was no longer on the road to becoming governor. It was also clear that the political circus in Virginia was going to become more complicated, more disappointing, and more enraging.

As scholar Melissa Harris-Perry pointed out on Twitter, “Now observers are wringing hands over the “racist v rapist” dilemma facing Virginia. Welcome to the intersection where black women live.”

Democrats were at first unsure how to process the Fairfax allegations. But as Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson told more of their very detailed and compelling stories, a uniformed call for Fairfax’s resignation began. There was even a delegate preparing to impeach him.

At the same time, Governor Ralph Northam was all but planning a quiet victory party, hoping to rebuild his appeal among Black voters with a new race-based agenda. The conversation about his photos with blackface and KKK robes mostly died down. Many people, including some self-proclaimed progressives, rested on the “blackface is bad but not criminal,” excuse.

Ralph Northam speaking in an interview with CBS.


These statements dangerously minimize the fact that the Ku Klux Klan is a domestic terrorist group. Black communities were not angry at Northam for having bad manners. We were angry because those photographs depict an alignment with people that have terrorized, murdered, and raped Black and Brown people across the United States of America. A 25-year-old man in medical school (FROM VIRGINIA) knows very well what the Klan is and what they represent.

If Tamir Rice was a man, if Mike Brown was a man, if Trayvon Martin was a man, then surely Ralph Northam was a man at 25 years old – fully capable of the repercussions of his actions (both then and now).

As a Black woman that has experienced sexual assault, I am in no way excusing or minimizing allegations against Justin Fairfax. Nevertheless, accountability shouldn’t be selectively reserved when it comes to issues surrounding racism and sexual assault. Though the two issues should never be conflated – we can and should hold people accountable for both.

I feared that Democrats would allow Northam and his allies to weaponize the Fairfax allegations in order to remain governor and never be held fully accountable for his actions. And that is exactly what happened. Basically, Fairfax’s sexual assault allegations became the shield for Northam’s racist transgressions. In that case, Black women, whom everyone suddenly pretends to care about, are no safer, no more protected than we were before.

It’s all a horrible mess that no one could have predicted. But we’re here now, and we have to make sense of it.

In both cases, there must be justice. Fairfax has been accused of a crime. Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson should be heard. Their testimonies should be taken seriously. There should be a full investigation, and there should be full accountability. On the other hand, Northam publically aligned himself with terrorists in his yearbook photos. To me, this is enough for removal as well. And he should also be thoroughly investigated.

But now that’s not going to happen.

Between Fairfax and Northam, the only thing I’m rooting for is truth and justice.

However, we can not allow the hope for justice to be weaponized against us. Untangling this web of chaos isn’t easy. Even as I write this, I feel juxtaposed against myself. Perhaps, I am.

However, if Democrats were willing to impeach Fairfax with no specific plan for addressing Northam, they were not truly working towards ensuring justice. They’ve only allowed justice to be weaponized to protect another person in power.

Lastly, as we move closer to 2020, there are only going to be more revelations, accusations, and scandals. I strongly advise Democrats to develop a well thought out process that brings more order and equality to moves towards investigating issues and enforcing accountability.

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Jessica Ann Mitchell Aiwuyor is a publisher and multicultural communications specialist. To reach J.A.M., email her at JAMAiwuyor@gmail.com.

Omarosa Still Can’t Come to the Cookout, But She Can Drop Off Her Tapes

It’s hard to forgive Omarosa Manigault Newman for her participation in selling out the Black community to an administration that is clearly adversarial to any and all forms of civil/human rights. Since she’s has been fired from the Trump Administration she’s attempted reconciliation with the Black community, which has largely gone ignored (and rightfully so). The Trump Administration, at every turn, has sought to strip away all civil rights available that could benefit communities of color.

Since she’s been fired, Omarosa has been showering us in a rain of anti-Trump stories. Yet, she is essentially telling us what we already know. Donald Trump is corrupt. Yes, Omarosa we know. Oil is greasy. Water is wet. None of this is surprising.

But her recordings, bear witness and provide further undeniable proof as to how corrupt the current administration is. It’s poetic, almost Shakespearean, that she is giving Trump exactly what he gives – unfazed, uncontrollable, outbursts of media-hungry commentary. She has been on almost every major news network this week, while she admittedly beats, “Trump at his own game.”

Still, I have no interest in advocating for a person that so easily plays with Black lives. Omarosa’s previous actions show that she is from the Tribe of Kanye aka the selfers. She’s in this fight for herself and always has been. Would we have heard the recordings if she was never fired? Who knows?

However, as much as I dislike her, those tapes are important and downright historic. Her tapes could ultimately be used in the current investigation into the Trump Administration’s unlawful activities. Considering how hard it is to get real justice in this country, we need as much evidence as we can get. Even if it comes from Omarosa.

And yes, I do get a little cozy feeling knowing that a Black woman is giving Trump a taste of his own medicine. I’m listening to every tape. No, she still can’t come to the cookout but she can drop off her tapes. I might, save her a tiny piece of chicken though. And it wouldn’t have sauce on it.

 

Jessica Ann Mitchell Aiwuyor is the founder of Our Legaci Press and the author of Rise and Shine, Dear Heart, a children’s book that provides encouragement to young girls, while showcasing diverse skin tones, shapes and sizes. Rise and Shine, Dear Heart is available for pre-order at OurLegaciPress.com/books.

 

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Reflections for the “Other Side”

Medgar Evers
Civil Rights Activist Medgar Evers

I really don’t want to spend the next three years writing and responding to Donald Trump. In an attempt to maintain my composure – I’ve opted to take frequent breaks from theorizing our current state of affairs. However, one thing that recently struck me was Trump’s insistence that the violence in Charlottesville, VA at a white supremacist rally was caused by “both sides.” He was referring to white supremacy advocates versus their opponents – people that are anti-hatred.

Throughout American history, people in opposition to progress have always blamed the “other side” for violence that ensues when countering oppression. The issue isn’t that the “other side” is violent. The issue is that the other side won’t be passive, won’t accept things the way that they are and won’t fearfully bide in silence.

Thus, they are labeled trouble makers for their insistence that society must make positive and progressive changes.

Harriet Tubman was labeled a thief and an outlaw.

Martin Luther King Jr. was beaten and jailed.

Fannie Lou Hamer was beaten and jailed.

Angela Davis was labeled a fugitive and jailed.

Nelson Mandela was imprisoned and labeled a terrorist.

Medgar Evers and countless others were murdered.

They were the “other side.” Today, history is on their side.

Playing the blame game is an old tactic and I’m not surprised at all. So to members of the “other side” – keep dreaming, keep pushing, and keep disrupting.

Keep on being the “other side.” We need you.

 

Jessica Ann Mitchell Aiwuyor is the founder of OurLegaci.com. To reach JAM, email her at OurLegaci@gmail.com. Follow her on Facebook at Facebook.com/JAMAiwuyor.

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How Politics, Racism and Facebook Ended My 16-Year Friendship

facebook-racism

This Christmas I will not be speaking to my friend of 16 years.  Why???  Well after years of reading his Facebook posts I slowly and painfully discovered that my white friend was a racist. Initially I tried to ignore it but as an African American man I could no longer stomach his increasingly toxic, race fueled comments that were initially veiled as just boisterous, conservative rhetoric. After debating him online for years over politics, race and social topics I finally had an epiphany. I could no longer excuse “Adam” by brushing him off as being a hyper-conservative republican. His truth was undeniable. However, I chose not to confront Adam about it, instead I quietly un-friended him on Facebook. Weeks later he confronted me and unloaded a barrage of online insults accusing me of being the actual racist and a “radical” for calling out discrimination, something I’ve aggressively done for years on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and on my personal blog/website.

Initially I blamed Facebook and the bold frontier of social media, a place where like-minded individuals are able to find strength in numbers in pack like mentality as the source of Adam’s racism.  But after deeper reflection I believe it is the rising public influence of social media combined with an unconscious internal racial/class angst within Adam and many other white Americans that has now spewed to the surface with the election and re-election of the nation’s first Black President, Barack Obama.

Our Friendship
handshake

Adam and I are about two years or so apart in age, both from the state of Alabama, both attended The University of Alabama although we didn’t know each other in college.  Four years later we bumped into each other in Atlanta where we both worked for the same company.  We vaguely recognized each other, discovered our mutual roots, college friends and quickly bonded as friends ourselves.  Oddly, our racial differences didn’t seem to matter especially since we both hailed from a state richly steeped in a tradition of hatred, slavery, Jim Crow segregation and racial discrimination.

Our twenties quickly turned into our thirties as we both chased our careers crisscrossing the nation with eight moves and five cities between us but we always stayed in touch. I remember once when I was going through financial challenges in Los Angeles, Adam gave me a financial gift to keep me going.  So we weren’t just causal buddies, we were genuine friends.

The Change Began in 2008

2009 Armed Forces Inaugural Committee

It was the election of America’s first Black President that was the initial trigger.  Adam’s criticism of the President, the economy and its sluggish growth, high unemployment along with his 2012 staunch support of Mitt Romney for president and his criticism of Obamacare is what blew open the divide between us.   Although these online conflicts are common between social media users and their “friends,” our conflict was much different and far deeper.

We weren’t just men hiding behind computer screens and mouse pads.  We were real life friends who shared secrets, hosted each other in our homes, supported, advised and even prayed for one another.  Now we were at odds with each other via social media and it was about to get much worse. As the great recession lingered, Adam became unemployed for a long time and felt significant angst about his place in the world and ability to sustain himself. He increasingly blamed Pres. Obama for not fixing the economy fast enough.  Meanwhile I was forced to completely abandon my media consulting small business in order to run back to a corporate 9-5 job when my client base dried up.  But instead of blaming Pres. Obama I blamed his predecessor Pres. George W. Bush along with the Republican led filibustering within the US Senate which blocked crucial jobs bills which would have grown the economy faster.  So our initial online clashes were over who really was to blame for our forced and dramatic career changes and life shifting situations.

By 2012 Adam was unabashedly lifting talking points from far right leaning FOX News network and spewing them across his Facebook feed without an ounce of criticism towards his own Republican party for its constant obstructionism, filibustering of key legislation and judicial nominations along with its gerrymandering of voting districts to seize control of the House of Representatives. He never addressed the conservative led 36 state Voter-ID “suppression” efforts which sought to reduce early voting, the number of hours to vote, plus stopped voter registration drives and blocked students at private historically black colleges and other universities from voting in the states where they attended school.

We soon became caricatures or perhaps archetypes of Facebook.  He was now a reliably grouchy Republican poster child stating how he wanted his country as he posted a picture of how red America’s voting districts really were but how we have a Democratic President and controlled Senate.  And I would fly in on his Facebook posts like a true blue Liberal Superman countering that much of the red on his voting map represented land based districts and NOT people filled districts not to mention the epic 2010 republican gerrymandered districts on federal and state levels. He soon started to attack immigrants and specifically Latinos when he posted how it felt being a white minority living in certain parts of Los Angeles and seeking out other white people.

But then it really got ugly!! In another post he tried to bash current day immigrants stating how his family migrated to America several generations ago and became productive citizens and that he demanded better from others in “my” country today. I angrily countered that my family had been in this country far longer than his since my descendants came on the slave ship Clotilde which docked in Mobile, AL in 1859. I informed him that Blacks have been in America since the 1600s in Jamestown, VA as slaves and that America really wasn’t “his” country but that he and his family were the true immigrants in America.In another Facebook rant Adam went after the poor chastising them for having too many children and for being on welfare, forgetting that he too was unemployed for a very long time and needed assistance. He also went after a women’s right-to-choose and gays with same-sex marriage stating there were far more important issues to tackle.True to red-state formation, Adam embraced only fiscal issues, rejected social justice topics and the hyphenation of America and instead longed for an era in which white straight men ruled America; an era which Adam never lived however generations later he unknowingly reaped the benefits of it through his white privilege.

Similarly I never lived in an era where blacks were captive to slavery and segregationist Jim Crow laws but I still felt the disadvantages and hurdles growing up and becoming an African American man trying to understand why it seemed so much harder for me to succeed even though I tried, worked and networked three times harder as my white counterparts both in business and within the workplace.Adam and I both felt internal angst about America and achieving the American dream but in two very different directions.  While Adam’s angst and path is often sympathized, even lauded at times, my angst and path is often discounted, demonized and scoffed as being simply excuses.

Were we really ever friends???

Adam and I represent a microcosm of American society and its growing chasm and obsession with race and class.  It’s a battle between a dying demographic (white conservatives) versus a young, growing, dynamic, multi-ethnic, multi-racial demographic which when combined with women, gays, elderly and the poor are finally having their issues and voices heard and addressed.

There’s a belief by the former group that somehow they are losing something when other groups gain their rights or have their grievances addressed.  They fear they might be retaliated against once all avenues of politics, business and social dealings are no longer brokered by themselves.  It is a fear I believe is striking at the center of Adam’s heart.

Today neither one of us is swayed by the other’s arguments and we exist as polar opposites in the world. So is our 16 year friendship worth saving? The answer for me  this Christmas is I’m not so sure.

HerndonDavisHerndon L. Davis is a former media activist turned corporate schmuck .  He can be reached at herndondavis@aol.com and at www.youtube.com/HLDATL.

Article originally posted on: http://herndondavis.blogspot.com